We never could have foreseen this. Never:
The Writers Guild of America is warning that current initiatives to protect copyright holders from online piracy go too far. The labor union, which represents many Hollywood writers, says that free speech and the open Internet should be balanced against copyright protection. Among other things they see high statutory damages, such as those the MPAA demanded against torrent site isoHunt, as unreasonable.
Last year the U.S. Government’s Internet Policy Task Force published a Green Paper signaling various copyright issues that need to be addressed.
Interested parties were invited to comment on the plans and many have done so. Thus far most responses have been rather predictable. The MPAA and RIAA, for example, vowed to keep high fines for pirates, and civil rights groups and copyright experts argued against it.
A few days ago the second round of comments was made public and many of the same arguments were repeated. However, there also was a submission from the Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW), that is quite atypical to say the least.
The labor union represents thousands of screen writers in Hollywood and Southern California, many of whom work for the major movie and TV studios. In common with other people in the copyright industry, the writers are concerned by piracy, but they also warn that copyright shouldn’t trump the open Internet and free speech.
“While many of the most pirated works are created by WGAW members, we believe that copyright must be balanced with the preservation of an open, competitive Internet and protection of consumers’ rights to access the lawful content, services and applications of their choice,” WGAW writes.
“Achieving this balance requires the creation of guiding principles for the development of piracy detection and prevention tools in laws and industry agreements that do not infringe on free speech and the right to privacy,” the writers add.
Instead of calling to increase copyright enforcement, they suggest that current initiatives and legislation should be toned down.
EDITED BY MUNCHMAN TO ADD: Actually, I’m thinking that this makes perfect sense after all. See, U.S. screen and TV writers don’t get to keep the copyright to their work. Part of the standard deal is that they have to hand that over in order to collect their moolah. So piracy doesn’t affect WGAW members all. They’ve already been shafted.